Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are of clinical interest for their potential use in regenerative medicine and immunotherapy. Originally derived from bone marrow (BM), MSC have now been isolated from most tissues, including umbilical cord (UC) and UC blood (UCB). If MSC from UC are biologically equivalent to those from BM, they would be attractive as a readily available and non-invasive source for cellular therapies.
Methods: Sections of UC were separated into vascular and Wharton's jelly (WJ) fractions, which were then digested individually to release MSC that were isolated by plastic adherence in a 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) medium, or a low serum medium designed for multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPC). The resulting perivascular (PV) and WJ MSC lines were assayed for expression of characteristic markers and differentiation and immunosuppressive properties.
Results: MSC lines were readily derived from most UC tested. Cells grown in MAPC medium (MM) tended to be smaller and more elongated and expressed more nestin, but did not differ substantially in their growth rate, expression of other markers and differentiation capacity. All UC lines tested were adipogenic but poorly osteogenic, and were equivalent in their ability to suppress T-cell proliferation induced by phytohemagglutinin (PHA), activation beads and allostimulation.
Conclusions: UC is a convenient, efficient source of MSC that can be expanded under low serum conditions for application on future studies of tissue regeneration and immunosuppression.